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UZVA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Finland


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Uzva biography
The Finnish band UZVA was formed up in year 1994 by Heikki Puska, Pekko Sams, Olli Kari and Lauri Kajander. They started by playing some psychedelic / progressive rock song covers, and then focused to their own instrumental material and developed their style. During the years the original rock quartet has grown strongly with additional musicians handling instruments providing aspects of classical, jazz, and traditional folk music to their sound, creating warm hearted chamber rock sound reaching very high artistic quality standards. The arranged compositional parts are strongly tied with European classical symphonic music, containing space for more free jazz elements and rock instrumentation jam sequences, and visiting different culture's folk music (like European classical music also often does), delivering strong association of peaceful and ideal pastoral scenes.

As comparison references of their style, FRANK ZAPPA's jazz rock records could come in mind, as do the kind-hearted symphonic music of MIKE OLDFIELD, the heyday sound of Finnish groups TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI and WIGWAM, and also some other psychedelic jazz rock bands like SOFT MACHINE, not forgetting more violently neurotic sound similar of Wetton/Bruford-era KING CRIMSON. The band has played some of the songs of these groups in their gigs, and also done tribute projects for some of them.

During the years band has had some changes in their line-up, but the fundamentals of their spiritual and aesthetic musical approach have stayed quite similar. They have been giving out concerts regularly, and releasing CD's in a calm but steady pace. The line-up listed in year 2008 is Heikki Puska (lead guitar), Lauri Kajander (rhythm guitar), Jarmo Rouvinen (saxophones & flute), Inka Eerola (violin), Antti Hermaja (trombone), Olli Kari (vibes & marimba), Antti Kivimäki (bass) and Ville Väätäinen (drums).

: : : Eetu Pellonpää, FINLAND : : :

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UZVA discography


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UZVA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.53 | 25 ratings
Tammikuinen Tammela
2000
3.77 | 38 ratings
Niittoaika
2002
4.20 | 30 ratings
Uoma
2006

UZVA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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2.00 | 2 ratings
Ylösmatka
1995

UZVA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Uoma by UZVA album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.20 | 30 ratings

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Uoma
Uzva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Uoma' - Uzva (74/100)

I must admit; I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Uzva's Uoma, the third (and presumably final) album of their career. I was first taken aback by their second record Niittoaika, a beautiful work that managed to reinvent the fusion of classic prog rock and jazz in a refreshing way. While nowhere near as impressive as their sophomore, Uzva's debut Tammikuinen Tammela offered a different sort of experience, closer to the chamber rock style of a band like Aranis than anything strictly jazz-related, although once again, Uzva managed to surprise me with their fresh take on a familiar genre.

There's no doubt that Uoma is a technical triumph beyond its predecessors- it took two years to record this album, and the instrumental wizardry Uzva only ever implied they were capable of on past albums takes a strong role in Uoma. Be that as it may, it is the first time I feel Uzva's venture into a new realm has not resulted in a fresh style. For better or worse, Uzva's third album saw them finally marry themselves to prog fusion, as well as the stylistic bells and whistles the label implies. The intimately pastoral tone that in part defined them has made way for progressive fireworks and a fitting demonstration of their obvious chops as players. In a way, it's as if the big wish I had with the debut has been fulfilled; still, I am left feeling like I would have preferred to hear Uzva continue their pursuit of woodland atmosphere and dynamic restraint.

Of course, I do not mean to imply that Uoma is a bad album by any stretch; the change is in most ways an evolution rather than a hindrance. Most of all, Uoma succeeds in bringing the talent and tightness of Uzva to the forefront. Before this, the band made it plainly obvious that they could pull off sophistication of a Gentle Giant or King Crimson calibre, but they chose not to, instead favouring whatever felt best for the composition itself. While there were times even during Niittoaika where I might have wished to hear something more explosive, I think the restraint did more good than harm; above anything else, it set them apart from the legions of equally skilled fusioneers that weren't afraid to strut their skills. In that sense, in spite of the fact it is undoubtedly the most challenging of the three Uzva albums, it is also the most conventional.

In keeping with the band's tradition, Uoma primarily operates with longer suites, broken up into shorter tracks to better get the impression across that they work better as movements of music rather than well-rounded songs. Among these, "Arabian Ran-Ta" is the most instantly gratifying piece, wrapping itself around exotic flute instrumentation and atmospheric tension unheard on Uzva's past work. "Chinese Daydream Part 1" is also noteworthy, if only for the fact that it recalls the immersive atmosphere of Niittoaika. The obviously King Crimson-influenced "Vesikko" ("Part 3" begins with a crunchy riff borrowed from Crimson's "One More Red Nightmare"); like the album's opener "Kuoriutuminen", "Vesikko" is best described as a meticulously composed jam rather than a full-bodied composition. Stretches of time are set aside for the sake of building leads, although Uzva never venture far or long from the written framework.

Uoma is magnificently performed, and aspects from both their chamber rock and jazz fusion styles have found their way here, although it's clear by this point that Uzva had declared their undying love for the latter. There is no doubt that Uzva's third album is the most challenging and layered thing they would ever produce. Even so, in spite of its technical accomplishments, I'm not hearing the same moments of near- cinematic beauty that defined y experience of Niittoaika. The compositions have given up some of their atmosphere for the sake of demonstrating skills we already knew Uzva were capable of. I have no doubt that some will see Uoma as the strongest offering by Uzva. I prefer the moderation and restrained arrangement of their second. If anything may be said to conclude an exploration of Uzva's striking (yet brief) discography, it's that they successfully managed to reinvent themselves with each new record. Regardless whether the changes were favourable enough, that is a feat in itself.

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 Tammikuinen Tammela by UZVA album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.53 | 25 ratings

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Tammikuinen Tammela
Uzva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Tammikuinen Tammela' - Uzva (58/100)

Uzva's second album Niittoaika ranks among the more promising albums I've heard lately. Although prog fusion is far from alien to most fans of progressive rock, it was the way they brought jazz in with the progressive traditions that made Uzva's sound and style so compelling. Unsurprisingly, the refreshing experience I had with Niittoaika impelled me to explore further into Uzva's relatively small discography. Anyways, here we have it: Tammikuinen Tammela, a debut that released quietly two years prior to its successor at the turn of the millennium. As I expected, the rich arrangements and thoughtfully restrained performances were part of Uzva from an early stage. Unfortunately, in spite of their strong technique and interesting stylistic foundations, Uzva's debut lacks the focus and purposeful momentum that made Niittoaika such a hit with me.

I don't believe I'd be making such a far stretch in calling Tammikuinen Tammela an example of 'lounge prog'; while Uzva are clearly capable of pulling off instrumental complexities of a Gentle Giant or King Crimson nature, they purposefully keep things mellow and light for the most part. Moments like the energetic, clarinet-led opening riff to "Part IV" allude to potential Uzva have yet untapped; for the most part, Tammikuinen Tammela takes the form of a laid-back, largely acoustic interplay between musicians. While Niittoaika and their third record Uoma may be defined (albeit prolematically) as a prog-jazz fusion, Tammikuinen Tammela would be relatively well-placed as chamber rock. Unlike many of the 'chamber rock' acts I'm familiar with (Aranis and Univers Zero, to name a couple), Uzva favour individual expression over rigid composition. Uzva's jazz influences aren't terribly apparent on the debut, but based on the fluid and not always apparent structure of their songwriting, it's not surprising they evolved into a jazzier act later on.

It's conceivable that this loose-yet-richly-layered sort of chamber rock exploration could have worked wonders- potentially even more than the later works which left less up to chance. The technical interplay is certainly here, but Tammikuinen Tammela is held back by how restrained and lacklustre the music often sounds in spite of the obvious technical skill. While dynamic and instrumental fireworks are by no means essential for great jazz, chamber rock or even prog, Uzva's decision to keep things light and meandering is a death knell for the album. It's clear from the harmonies and unison that Uzva composed the music with great care, but the muted energy and consonant harmonies feel hollowed somewhat by the lack of other elements of composition, namely purposeful structure, melodic hooks, a sense of build-up and dynamic. To be fair, there are parts of Tammikuinen Tammela that kick it up a notch (see: the aforementioned intro to "Part IV", or the album's jazz-rock and marimba-infused finale) but it's not enough to put the leisurely parts in context.

Tammikuinen Tammela is a portfolio of some excellent musicianship and talent with harmony-based arrangements. It may have been as engaging as Niittoaika too, if it had anything else to offer on top of that. True to the chamber music tradition, the performance feels amplified and simultaneously limited by the austere composition-based restrictions it places on itself. In the case of Tammikuinen Tammela, it feels like there are inspired performances wanting to get out and place an even greater emphasis on the musicians' individual expression (arguably being the strongest part of Uzva's debut) but it seems the band are torn between letting their spontaneity and dynamism run free, or focusing their structure and performance. As it turns out, with Niittoaika two years later, they chose the latter approach, and haven't looked back since.

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 Niittoaika by UZVA album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.77 | 38 ratings

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Niittoaika
Uzva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Niittoaika' - Uzva (77/100)

Uzva is among the rare few that, while entirely deserving of the 'prog fusion' label that's tossed their way when discussing genre, fuel their music with a sensibility that appeals to the heart as much as the brain. Indeed, it's a shame that so many artists who pair progressive rock ingredients with a jazzy context (or vice- versa!) tend to lose sight of the fact that both styles are best when the technical prospects give way in part to hooks and atmosphere.

Given that preface, it should not be a surprise that Niittoaika trumps many of its contemporaries as a solid reinvention of traditional progressive rock. While many of the genre-based expectations a listener might have for either side of the fusion are fulfilled, Uzva's balance of traits is refreshing; the austere atmosphere and tonal experiments (closely resembling King Crimson in their heyday) and flute leads (fairly damned well analogous with prog in a rock setting) are here in full, as are the irregular chord choices that jazz listeners should be right at home with. It's the way that Uzva combines these familiar traits is what makes Niittoaika impressive; the egotism and fertile potential for loose jams are put aside in favour of compositions tightly structured and rich with atmosphere. Adding to that instrumentation heavy in flute and cello/violin leads, and it feels almost as if Niittoaika is the soundtrack to a wordless, woodland nature documentary.

Uzva's second album consists of three tracks, and to my delight, each distinguishes itself from the other two from the first listen onwards. "Soft Machine", as any seasoned prog listener might suspect, takes a fair bit of inspiration from the classic band of the same name. It's slow to build, but even at its most leisurely, there's the certain impression that Uzva haven't left much up to chance or spontaneity. The album's middle movement "Afrodite" is arguably the best of the three; it's helped a great deal by its warm atmosphere and focused attention on melodic lines. "Drontti" (an unassuming epic that reaches past the seventeen minute mark) continues the increasing momentum; after a short acoustic intermezzo ("Drontti 3.1"), Uzva pick up the pace and don't let up until the album is over. I might argue Uzva milk the finale too long for their own good (the otherwise mellow album has a near-ridiculously bombastic conclusion) but it is good to hear a more energetic side of Uzva before Niittoaika finishes up.

While the finale might leave listeners with a different impression, Niittoaika is a fairly mellow album; while the band themselves are tight and clearly focused (this stuff is undeniably far more difficult to pull off than the relaxed atmosphere might imply) Niittoaika demands nothing of its listener. Fans of progressive rock may see this as a fault. From where I'm coming from, it sounds like Uzva have done something that many in modern prog have attempted, and few others have actually managed to pull off; they've taken the traditional aesthetic of the genre and made it their own. Niittoaika lacks the boldness to rewrite the book as it were, but the vision here is refreshing and, above all, enjoyable.

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 Uoma by UZVA album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.20 | 30 ratings

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Uoma
Uzva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

5 stars I think UZVA is one of my favourite Finnish prog bands. A pity that this third album - recorded between October 2004 and April 2006 - will probably remain as their last. The group's mastermind and main composer was guitarist Heikki Puska; the co-composer on some Uoma tracks is Olli Kari who plays vibes, marimba and percussions. The all-instrumental music gives associations to many directions; sometimes it has folky flavour of Hergest Ridge -era MIKE OLDFIELD, sometimes - quite often - there's a Canterbury feel (SOFT MACHINE, CARAVAN, GILGAMESH,...) in the richly arranged and relaxed but deep jazz-rock. Like Sean Trane, also I noticed some similarities with the classic Quebec band MANEIGE, speaking of the chamber music influences. And Uzva have also succeeded to form an identifiable sound of their own, without being trapped at all by the great shadow of the late PEKKA POHJOLA, the most notable individual in the Finnish Fusion of all time.

Oh God how good this band sounds! The music flows efforlessly and has interesting details going on all the time. This is made possible by a long list of musicians: instruments include bassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophones, flute, piccolo, cello, violin and harp (I hardly had noticed that keyboards are missing). All instruments are used very thoughtfully and economically. Orchestral, overblown grandiosity is absent.

I'm willing to rate this with five stars which I haven't done in ages. Well, actually by doing so I look through my fingers some slightly disturbing restless moments that I don't like, such as in the parts one and two of 'Vesikko', but then again some other listener might welcome those edgier moments. The closing track 'Lullaby' is a calm composition for harp, alto flute and bassoon, a perfect ending for such a colourful and rich album of 71 minutes.

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 Tammikuinen Tammela by UZVA album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.53 | 25 ratings

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Tammikuinen Tammela
Uzva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars Ewok Canterbury

Taking the back-road into Scandinavia, I've decided to swing round the Baltic sea and head for the majestic forests of Finland. Ever since the early 70s this country has been dishing out a regular swirl of progressive acts - often taking their cue from the psychedelic whims of the Floyd, the avantguarde and perhaps even more so the playful loony-bin energy from the British town of Canterbury. You can hear it in bands like Tasavallan Presidentti, WigWam, Haikara as well as in the eclectic catalogue of bass man Pekka Pohjola. The feel is that of whimsical melodic intonation and roaring galloping fusion.

Uzva too belongs to this Finnish branching of the Canterbury sound. While decisively more influenced by Nordic folk music, you still sense a good whiff of their natural heritage. If you ask me, the combination of the northern folk woof and blazing jerky Brit fusion should've been done a long time ago. Whereas this group would show even more signs of their Canterbury influences in their subsequent releases, the next one even sporting a suite entitled Soft Machine, this is still were it all began, and incidentally also where the lovable northern twist is at it's most audible.

Now don't go ahead thinking this'll have the same manic tempi and brute power of The Softs, because that is certainly not the case. On Tammikuinen Tammela(Man, I'm not typing that again) the Canterbury essence seems to be slowed down to an unhurried dreamy concoction. With all the different traditional folk instruments in play, the moods recall the very nature surrounding it - and why would you make reckless zooming music to portray the vast green carpentry of nature, when you can slow things down to an enigmatic folky steam? Maybe I am not making any sense, but the infusion of violin and cello alters this music and it's otherwise wild locomotion to an infinitely more sensuous and natural sounding entity. I hear deep blue forest lakes, black granite mountain walls, howling owls in trees and a genuine musical adaptation of the light we get up here, that at times gets so white that it feels like it's going to burn straight through your cornea like sunbeams of lava.

You additionally get clarinet, trombone, French horn(Yay!), steel pans, accordion and last but not least acid box(?) to complement the conventional gathering of bass, drums and guitar. With all of this frolicking about in reeds and zany things like steel pans and that acid box, these guys are almost bound to end up in the vicinity of Frank Zappa, and sure they do. Just imagine dear old Franky boy joined by a couple of Ewok musicians after a good healthy dosage of opium.

This album is as relaxing as an autumn breeze - only briefly do you sense a storm front brewing, like on the last track. Otherwise the moods are kept in an alluringly lush folky ambiance that only really shows signs of impending onslaughts by way of the ridiculously twitchy drum-work.

Recommended to Ewoks and people of the jazz forest. Yeah, you know who you are! Remember me for your upcoming winter event, where numerous blind dates with bears are to be won. Count me in - I'll bring this album with me for romance, serenity and peace of mind.

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 Niittoaika by UZVA album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.77 | 38 ratings

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Niittoaika
Uzva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Very pleasant and melodic instrumental Jazz music from Finland. They have divided this recording into three sections with 2 to 3 songs in each.

"Soft Machine" is the first section. Part 1 opens with the birds chirping while vibes, drums then bass comes in. Violin before 2 minutes as it stays pastoral. Flute a minute later. Part 2 has a fuller sound with heavy drums and lots of violin.The flute becomes prominant as well. Guitar after 6 minutes as bass throbs. It settles with violin 7 1/2 minutes in. Part 3 is violin led with a fuller sound a minute in. Some nice bass as well. Aggressive guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. It ends with the birds singing. "Afrodite" Part 1 continues with those birds hamming it up. This is very pastoral with piano and flute. The violin does become prominant.

Part 2 features some great drumming as guitar,then violin come to the fore. I like the guitar after 6 minutes. The birds are back ! Did they ever leave ? "Drontti" Part 1 opens with surprise ! Birds. It's mellow and violin led. Part 2 continues with the singing birds as vibes come in. Flute before 2 minutes. The tempo picks up as violin and guitar arrive. It settles somewhat again. An aggressive passage before 4 minutes. I like the darker section before 5 minutes with violin. A big finish follows. Nice.

The overall mood is fairly light, too light for my tastes. Having said that, there are some really good passages here that I enjoy a lot.

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 Tammikuinen Tammela by UZVA album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.53 | 25 ratings

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Tammikuinen Tammela
Uzva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars UZVA hail from Finland and ''Tammikuinen Tamella'' is their debut album...It is a completely instrumental work and comes as a combination of progressive rock,ethnic orientations,chamber music and jazz improvisations...Weird,ha?And that's the way it is...This band has an obsure unique sound which I consider as a plus...Most part of the album is dominated by the bass lines,acoustic guitar work and an intense change of use of instruments like violin,cello,trombone,harmonica and the french horn.This is when AFTER CRYING or even ANGELO BRANDUARDI's early solo works come to mind...But also part of it contains complex progressive/jazz rock reminiscent of GENTLE GIANT or MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA,especially in the closing track ''Part V''...Important notification : This isn't an easy album to listen to! It takes several listenings to appreciate it and it's not an album for every time of the day, a specific relaxing mood is recommended before listenin to it...Anyone who wants to try something really new in the progressive rock field should check UZVA's works out...For me this is a 3.5 star effort, ranging from 2.5 stars to 4.5 dependin on the mood!...

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 Uoma by UZVA album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.20 | 30 ratings

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Uoma
Uzva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Rainer Rein

4 stars I got this Uzva's last recording Uoma some days ago and fortunately I like this one almost as much as their previous one. The music has gone a bit more electric, maybe in two compositions there are too straight suggestions to chinese and arabic music (instead of more allegory)... But all in all these Chinese Daqydream and Arabian Ran-Ta are very fine compositions. My real faves are anyway majestic Kuoriutuminen, dynamic Vesikko and pastoral Lullaby (only for three acoustic instruments - great final of this item)! On Dec 9. last year I had the greatest pleasure to visit the capital of my neighbour- country - Helsinki - to visit one concert of Uzva where they performed three longish compositions of this Uoma-recording: the results were very intense and a bit more electric than before... Uzva had (and have) some new members and on this Uoma-record also some quest musicians on different acoustic instruments (for example harp and bassoon). This record is very-worth-to-listen Finnish instrumental nature-friendly fusion with some electroacoustic (and acoustic) highlights!

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 Uoma by UZVA album cover Studio Album, 2006
4.20 | 30 ratings

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Uoma
Uzva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Third album from this hard-to-classify combo. As opposed to their previous album, they are much more electric and the jazz influences are rather more present also. Graced with a naïve but superb interchangeable artwork, this very long instrumental album is definitely in the jazz-rock domain and the again link different pieces (a bit arbitrarily if you ask me) together, so you will find 11 tracks divided into six "song titles" wghich are all penned by guitarist Heikki Puska , although Vibraphone man Olli Kari helps out on two of the longer tracks.

Opening on the superb 13-min+ Kuoriutuminen, this album warns right away that it will be more electric than the previous album, while the second a slower (and even more electric) burner called Different Realities. With a rather different two-part Chinese Daydream (a little cheesy, IMHO) able to provide a welcome break between more involved numbers. The following Arabian Ran-Ta is one of the highlights of the album with an excellent exchange between the violin and the flute. Of course you are all waiting to find out about that 23- min+ Vesikko tracks (three of them actually), and let's face it, this is the cornerstone on which the album is built. The unavoidable medley of jazz-rock, classical music (they remind me of early Maneige) again turning to far-eastern influences, before shifting to a sort of Mahavishnu fusion (BOF-era) etc. The last track is a quiet harp outro.

With this third album, Uzva is really entering the court of the great fusion bands and most likely will stay around for a while, for they have everything and every ingredient to succeed. Hard to say whether this album is better than the previous Nittoaika (which a was also a small chef d'oeuvre), but it is at least as excellent as it.

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 Tammikuinen Tammela by UZVA album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.53 | 25 ratings

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Tammikuinen Tammela
Uzva Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by pirkka

3 stars As a fan of prog folk I find it hard to place Uzva into that category. I don't mean that I would not like this album, I do. But it is to me more folk jazz and also classical elements are visible. The most enjoyable thing in this record is the recording itself. You don't need to wait for live acts if you have good equipment at home, Uzva will be there also! It's not wonder as the music is recorded by Måns Groundstroem, a member of the great prog bands Tasavallan Presidentti and Wigwam (which might also explain the 70's influence in this music) and mastered by Otto Donner, a highly talented musician and co-founder of the finnish record company Love Records. Only weak moment on this album is in the beginning the sound of the violin. It seems that Lari is a bit tense but as the music gets going the playing is just fine.

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